Skim through the magazine over the years and you'll gain a glimpse of history and societal trends. Editorial board volunteers and magazine staff conducted a decade review of key topics and social issues covered in 75 years of Wisconsin Lawyer. Here's a brief look at some of their findings.
What they Were Reading When
Skim through the magazine over the years and you'll gain a glimpse of
history and societal trends. Editorial board volunteers and magazine
staff conducted a decade review of key topics and social issues covered
in 75 years of Wisconsin Lawyer. Here's a brief look at some of
Late 1920s and 1930s. The magazine devoted most of
its pages to Bar association information and news about individual
attorneys. Articles often were taken from speeches presented at Bar
meetings. A few major topics included unauthorized practice of law, new
automobile insurance laws (accidents were rising dramatically as autos
became more common), unemployment law, lawyers' and judges' image
(whether judges should wear robes), Bar integration, professional
ethics, and the bank merger movement.
In 1929 the Bulletin published the first-ever Bar-
recommended statewide minimum fee schedule; revisions were published
until the schedule's demise in 1973. Many items touched on how
Prohibition, gangsters, the Great Depression, and other issues affected
lawyers, the public, and the judicial system. For instance, a piece
called "A Warning Against Mob Violence," decrying radical organizers
among farmers facing foreclosures, appeared in the January 1934 issue,
taken from an attorney's speech delivered to an Elks Club in New
1940s. World War II weighed heavily on the country,
as it did on the legal profession. News items abounded on which
attorneys were off to war and articles spoke to, for example, "Legal
Assistance to Servicemen" and "Lawyers' Opportunities in the New Army."
A February 1943 news item, "U.W. Law School Depleted," reported that
enrollment was down to 90, compared to 400 before the war. After the
war, discussion appeared about the need for lawyer refresher training.
Other key subjects were unauthorized practice ("Accountants May Not
Practice Tax Law"), Bar integration, and the public image of
The February 1948 issue published a resolution drafted by the Bar's
Civil Rights Committee and adopted by the Bar, stating, "anyone who
publicly or by acknowledged membership in the Communistic Party aids,
supports or assists the World Communist Movement to accomplish its
objectives in the United States is unworthy of his office as a lawyer
and should not be permitted to become or remain a member of the
Wisconsin Bar Association." However, no discussion appeared on the
violation of Japanese-Americans' civil liberties as they were hauled off
to internment camps in the 1940s, or of Sen. Joe McCarthy's abuses
during his communist witch-hunt in the 1950s.
1950s. This decade saw growing awareness of the
economics of practice, with such articles as "Applying Business
Techniques to the Law Office" and "The Importance of Management in the
Law Office." Minimum fee schedules appeared as supplements to the
magazine. Unauthorized practice and professional image continued to be
concerns, as exemplified by such articles as "Unauthorized Practice of
Law by Real Estate Brokers" and "The Practicing Lawyer Must Practice
Public Relations, Too." The broadening of the law also is evident, for
example, "Television and the Law" and "Estate Planning - The New
1960s. Articles discussed changes in divorce law and
children's rights. Other topics included tort law, group legal service
plans, the formation of Judicare, the pros and cons of increasing
specialization in law practice, free-press issues, and crime prevention.
Unauthorized practice of law, Bar integration (the Lathrop
case), ethics, estate planning, and office management continued to be
predominant subjects. An announcement states that Bar CLE programs now
are available on videotape. Phil Habermann wrote in the February 1964
issue (p. 17) that "The crying need of today's lawyers is for relief
from an excess of work."
In his October 1966 President's Page, Ray McCann wrote, "In both
parties, there are competent men or women for each and every (judicial)
vacancy." This is one of the rare acknowledgements appearing in the
magazine in its first 40 years that women were lawyers, too. Still, a
statistic from the late 1960s reveals that women comprised only 2
percent of Wisconsin's lawyers.
Barely evident in the magazine were signs of the civil rights
movement of the 1960s, but some evidence appeared of the dissension
surrounding the Vietnam War. For instance, Bar president Richard
Tinkham's August 1968 column, "Where is the Voice of America?,"
encouraged attorneys to speak out on public issues. It spurred one
attorney's letter to the editor explaining why many saw civil
disobedience as their only recourse for change, which in turn drew a
letter from an attorney who questioned whether the Bulletin
"has become a vehicle for the dissemination of leftist propaganda."
1970s. In this decade of numerous transitions in the
profession, the magazine covered continuing legal education,
specialization, public relations (an August 1971 article reports that
lawyers' image is at an all-time low), malpractice insurance, lawyer
advertising, diploma privilege, use of legal assistants, and court
reorganization (creation of the state court of appeals). Other articles
covered do-it-yourself divorce, legal assistance to Vietnamese refugees,
consumer protection laws, and the creation of Wisconsin's Legal Services
Corporation. Economics of law practice and Bar integration continued to
surface as topics.
1980s. Added to many topics already mentioned were
marital property law reform, tort reform, courthouse security,
alternative dispute resolution, copyright law, and attorney stress. More
information on environmental law emerged as this became an established
specialized practice area. Computer technology and online research
sources arrived in law offices. A May 1989 article reported that DNA
testing is now admitted as evidence in 12 states. Women played a larger
role in the profession, spurring surveys and discussions of such issues
as gender bias and balancing family and career.
1990s. The September 1995 issue presented "An
Internet Primer for Attorneys" and announced the upcoming launch of
WisBar, the State Bar's own Web site. Technology topics burgeoned
throughout the 1990s, for example, "Lawyers' 30 Top Computer Tips"
(August 1996), "Security on the Internet" (December 1997), "Search and
Seizure of Computer Data" (February 1999), and many more. Articles
discussed new concepts in law practice, such as multidisciplinary
practice and unbundling legal services. The state's judiciary gained
extensive coverage throughout the decade as it dealt with
computerization, courthouse violence, media presence during trials, and
civility in the courtroom.
2000 plus. In this decade thus far, we've seen new
topics added to the ever-growing mix: planning for disaster recovery,
toxic mold litigation, branding the profession (a response to the
long-standing concern about the public's perception of the legal
profession), new DNA laws, civil liberties concerns related to the war
on terrorism, and truth in sentencing, to name only a few.
Today authors send in articles electronically, eliminating the need
for retyping and reducing the risk of introducing errors. Staff then
edit and make changes in an electronic document. Layout software has
replaced cut-and-paste, and we now prepare the magazine's pages entirely
in-house. No more back and forth with a typesetter. We purchase digital
artwork at low cost via the Internet, greatly reducing our reliance on
freelance illustrators and photographers. No more camera-ready paste-up
boards; the entire magazine is sent via the Internet to our printer,
which transfers the electronic files directly to printing plates. No
more film. Finally, within 24 hours, we receive a proof, for one last
look before printing.
All through the production process, we can make needed changes and
corrections easily, with a keystroke, without incurring typesetting
charges. That saves money and time, and makes the magazine as accurate
and up-to-date as possible when it reaches you.